Monthly Archives: January 2009

Is that an Asian Farmers Hat on that trendy kid? (1.29.)

Every once in a while I am stoped in my tracks by store window displays. This morning it was the Lucky Brand Jeans display on 22nd and fifth I learned that this conical straw hat, traditionally worn by farmers trying to shield the hot sun as they toil in the fields, is now apparently a hot display item for a little kid.

Lucky Jeans and Conical Hat

Lucky Jeans and Conical Hat

Can you imagine this family walking down fifth avenue? The trendy mom with her white leather purse and then the little kid tagging along in his Lucky Brand jeans, $40 t-shirt and a 笠帽, 竹笠 on his head?

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Tanning (1.28.09)

Here’s a little info for the beach bum tanning people. You can get as dark or orange as you want. It’s still freezing, raining and gross outside. And you have to deal with it.

It's still cold, no matter how tan you are.

It's still cold, no matter how tan you are.

 If you still want to tan, it’s at 23rd and Lexington. And here’s the full list of tanning salons in Manhattan.

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John Grisham and Charlie Rose at B&N on 14th (1.27.09)

I am always surprised by what I find in New York. Whether it is something odd, like a cross-dressing man with a full beard hiking up his dress to urinate on a subway stairwell (true story), or walking in the Barnes and Noble to take some notes out of a Literary Agents book and finding Charlie Rose interviewing John Grisham.

You don’t get these surprises anywhere else. And the good or the bad, there’s value in each of them. Do you know what else has value? Anything written by John Grisham. The guy has sold 240 million books! Most writers would be happy with a 245 dollar paycheck. This guy has sold 400-page books 245 million times. Before this turns into an algebra equation I’ll just say it, that equals a shit load of money.

It was very interesting to hear Grisham acknowledge the critics who say that he doesn’t write characters very well. Paraphrasing, he said, “That’s not what I do. I write suspense. I write books in the hope that you’ll pick it up, read it all day and all night and then call into work sick the next day just to stay home and keep reading…if you want to read 15 pages about a character I’m not the guy.” 

If it’s a theme I’ve found in successful people across the spectrum, they don’t cater to critics. They don’t change what they know they do well. For Grisham, it’s his Ginsu-sharp sense of story. He distills down each of his books into a two sentence hook to share with his wife. If she says it’s a story he sticks with it.  For The Firm – A young, up and coming lawyer gets his dream job at a big firm only to find out that it’s run by the mafia. Now that’s a hell of a hook.

His story of how A Time to Kill came about was just as gripping. Terrible rape case in his town and he knew the family. He is in court on their side when the judge throws everyone out of the room to talk with the plaintiff, defendent, and their lawyers. Grisham said it was like nothing he had every seen before or has seen since, so he knew there was something to it but wasn’t a writer at that point. When they were done, he went out to his car but left a notebook behind. He went back into the courtroom and found that the defendent, the rapist, was still sitting there, handcuffed to the chair. No one else was in the room. When he walked past the guy there eyes met, and, in that moment, he knew that if he were the girl’s father there was no way in hell he couldn’t have killed the guy right there. That moment stuck with him and eventually turned into the “fiction” book we have today.

Grisham and Rose (sorry it's blurry)

Grisham and Rose (sorry it's blurry) – Check it out along with his new book, The Associate. 
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What’s in a Name? (1.26.09)

What’s in a name? Apparently everything, because there is no way I’m going to go see this woman on 9th Street.

Paging Doctor Fang

Paging Doctor Fang

If only she was a D.D.S.  Turns out, Dr. Fang is an Opthamologist and can be seen at: 160 3rd Ave, New York or 237 E 20th St, New York. I’m sure she’s fine, I just can’t get past the name.

In searching for information on Dr. Fang I found that there are doctors with worse names. Take Ching Ping Fang Ph.D. for example.

Who else has seen or had a doctor with a bad name?

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Blogging the Big Cities (1.24.09)

What began as an utterly nerdy term, an invented expression, blogging, is now a mainstay of popular culture and, as I’ve found, the best way to get to know a city. Take for example. Here is a blog that provides details on walking routes throughout the city faster, more in depth, and more up to date than any Lonely Planet Guide could dream of doing.

When I moved to Manhattan over a year ago I had no clue of what was available to me, what was accessible in the areas of food, entertainment, city details, and best of all free stuff. Slowly, but surely, I came across blogs like and instantly found a world that mixed helpful suggestions with a sense of humor that kept me reading closely and often. Midtown’s latest post is titled: Midtown Links (The “I’m Glad I Don’t Have Gout” Edition). And check out while you’re at it.

I almost don’t want to mention it, but every “Guide to New York” book I was given before my move have been opened but a few times, except of course for the Not For Tourists Guide. That book is a lifesaver, if simply for the maps alone. But to this day it’s been the blogs that over anything else have provided the most interesting, knowledgeable and insider perspective on this city.Blogs like and will give a much more solid perspective.

Soon you’ll find out that a friend of yours has his or her own blog, or maybe even a coworker, as I found out with Blah Blog Blah.

For anyone that is new to a large city (L.A., Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, wherever): Don’t just read blogs for information on what to do and where to go in your new city, start your own blog. You’ll not only be documenting a certain aspect of your experience (my advice is to choose an angle or hook that is all yours, that is fresh and unresearched), but you’ll be plugged into a network of people who care about the city enough to take time out of their busy lives to offer their insights.

Considering moving to a new city and want to get the feel of it without buying a plane ticket? Check the blogs. What you’ll get is an unfiltered review of everything that people love, hate, find important, or think should go away. You may be surprised at what you’ll find.

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Worst Store Name Ever (1.22.09)

What’s the worst store name you’ve ever seen? Give me your comments. This is what I came across this morning on my commute. Pretty terrible, but I know there are worse.

Video Hospital

Video Hospital

If your video equipment is sick enough to require a hospital, this place is on 12th and 4th.

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Change Your Mind (1.21.09)

This is actually my second post of the day. The first came in the early hours of the morning when the horrendous sounds of jackhammering were beating their way into my apartment. It was one in the morning, and then two in the morning and I was still awake. I wrote this post then went to outside to see who was doing the work and go to Lyric Diner to maybe clear my head.

It was the Department of Environmental Protection and they were working like crazy. How could I be mad at people that are working at all hours to protect our environment?  I walked two blocks to Lyric Diner and got a cup of decaf. I spoke with the head waiter, exchanging pleasantries and then sharing my story of the drilling taking place just a block and a half away.

“I work at night, so I have to deal with that everyday,” the man said. It turns out he’s worked the night shift at Lyric for the past four years and sleeps everyday with a pair of earplugs to deaden the sounds of your typical New York City day.

“Somedays it works,” he says, “Some days it doesn’t.”

I was thinking about this on my walk this morning. And when I passed a newsbox on 23rd and 6th to see President Obama on the cover it struck me that the change that will help America most in these times is in our thoughts, in our intentions.

Our forefathers didn’t sacrifice everything, accept the label of traitors, and build a country through the physical. It was the mental shift in thought that took them the distance.

I had to put up with one night of lost sleep. That’s nothing compared to 4 years. Maybe the last 8 years will be nothing compared to the next hundred. It’s all in how you look at it.

President Obama and Michelle

President Obama and Michelle

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Early Morning (1.21.09)

It’s 12:44 in the morning as I write this. My commute to work is eight hours away. Why am I writing? Because someone it jackhammering on my block. Yes, jackhammering. The sound has been reverberating through my apartment for the last half hour. It woke me up and it will keep me awake, whether the noise continues or not, here I am, frustrated and far from sleep. If you don’t live in New York or if you grew up outside of the city can you imagine having to put up with jackhammering at what is now almost one in the morning?  Were people engaged in honking standoffs at three or four?

We cling to so much in our lives. Some of it is for a sense of security — a safety net to protect us from a perceived pain. This can feel good in the short term, but may be hindering our development as opposed to meeting that pain head on, assessing it, and teaching ourselves to move on.  Other times we cling to the stresses themselves, holding them and letting them fester in our minds even after they’re gone, as I’m sure to do with this godforsaken rattling of metal on concrete.

I don’t want to be thinking of this when I walk to work a few hours from now. I don’t want to wake up with a feeling of wanting to hurt the first construction worker I see. I know that there must be some reason for them doing this particular job now instead of sometime between 9 and 5. I want to walk with a free mind, maybe take the time to reflect more on this transitional and unprecedented time in our nation’s history. Now that’s something to wrap your mind around and cling to. As for the noise, it actually stopped a few minutes ago and by writing this I think I’m ready to move on.

Oh my God, it just started up again. I can’t believe it. It’s after one in the morning.  What a city. I can’t even say.

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Fire on 23rd Street (1.20.09)

There was a fire this morning at the stand on the public space next to Madison Square Park at 23rd and Park. I couldn’t tell if anyone was hurt. Couldn’t really tell much actually, as police and firefighters had it all surrounded. In what continues to be the worst news reporting ever, I don’t even remember what the stand was. I couldn’t tell with all the fire damage. Was it a newsstand? Maybe instead of a news story this can be a reflection of how narrowly focused we can be in our endeavours, walking the same path nearly every day and only really discovering something after it burns.

Burning stand at 23rd Street

Burning stand at 23rd Street

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Plane Crash Floating By (1.16.09)

I couldn’t think of anything else walking to work today other than the US. Airways plane crash on the Hudson that happened yesterday. My office is on the Hudson. We knew something big had happened when we saw a mess of ferries and helicopters headed up river.

Then reported of a plane crash and our hearts sank. We went to the roof to see what we could, but I think secretly we were trying to prepare ourselves for the news–what everyone expected to be tragic. If the crash didn’t do it, it was so bitterly cold along the river we knew only a few minutes in the water would be all a heart could take.

Slowly but surely the plane and all the boats floated right in front of our office. By this time, miraculously, all of the passengers had been brought to safety.

US Airways Crash Rescue Effort

US Airways Crash Rescue Effort

US Airways Rescue

US Airways Rescue

US Airways tail of crash

US Airways tail of crash

We were so thankful for the rescue effort, for the competence of the pilot, and for the safety of the passengers. If the plane had gone down just a few miles up river (less than a minute when flying), where it has iced over, the outcome would have been dramatically different. I can’t find any word better to describe it than a miracle.

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Hoboken Burgers? (1.15.09)

On snowy days like this one, where the chill turns your fingers numb in mere minutes, or when I’m running late, I hop on the Path train at 23rd Street and head towards New Jersey. I get off at Christopher Street, the last stop in Manhattan, yet I feel a strong connection with “the dirty Jers.” Maybe it’s the proximity – just 6 minutes to Hoboken. Or maybe it’s the gum that I stepped in a while back, chewed possibly by a Harrison teen on her way to the Rockband Live concert at the Prudential Center.

This morning, however, I saw a poster that made me question the Path and New Jersey in general.

Path Sign
Path Sign

“And you haven’t had a beer and a burger until you’ve had one in Hoboken,” it reads.

Really, guys? Is that the case?  What is it about Hoboken that makes the beer taste better?  Where is one going to have these life-changing burgers?

Help me out here people of New Jersey.

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A Note from the Dead (1.14.09)

There is a sign outside of St. Luke’s Chapel on Hudson Street in the West Village that I find fascinating. St. Lukes is New York City’s third oldest church (St. Paul’s and St. Mark’s in the Bowery are the oldest). The sign is very un-churchy and yet it transmits values and emotions in a very powerful way. The letters have faded.  Age has tarnished what was once clean. But if you the take the time to read it (uncover it more like it), the feeling is timeless, like the old citizens of New York are speaking to you.
 St. Thomas Church

St. Luke's Chapel

Here’s what it says: The Old Village Church of Greenwich Village, Built 1822.

Friends, this village church
Open stands for thee.
Thou mayest enter, think
Kneel and pray.
Remember whence thou art
And what must be.
Thine end. Remember us.
Then go thy way.

Ooh, I just caught a chill.

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Northern Dispensary (1.13.09)

I took the photo of this building in the West Village, the Northern Dispensary, but then found that New York Daily Photo already did all of my legwork, and better than I ever could. Sometimes you just have to recognize the work of others.

Northern Dispensary

Northern Dispensary

 From New York Daily Photo Blog, September 18, 2006: On one of the most unique corners in NYC sits one of the most mysterious buildings, previously owned by one of the most eccentric real estate investors – the Northern Dispensary, a triangular Georgian brick building, unoccupied since 1998. Click here for more photos. It is remarkable for having been continuously operated since 1827 as a public clinic – Edgar Allen Poe was treated here at no charge for a cold in 1937. It is also unique in that it has one side on two streets (Grove meets Christopher) and two sides on streets with the same name – where Waverly meets Waverly (click here for photo). The previous owner, William Gottlieb, drove a beat up station wagon with broken windows, yet after his death in 1999, his collection of properties was found to have a value of between 100-300 million dollars. He was notorious for acquiring properties and doing nothing with them – his sister Mollie Bender continues the Gottlieb tradition with no apparent plans for the building. A private deed placed on the building stated that the property had to be used to provide medical care to the “worthy poor.” However, since the deed is private, it is not clear whether it could be enforced. So its future is very unclear as the building stands eerily empty.

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The Road to Victory (1.12.09)

I think my hands froze off somewhere around West 11th. My face lost the ability to move near the Mud Truck at Christopher Street. And by the time I sat down at my desk I found that even my ass was completely numb. In case you can’t tell, it’s freezing this morning in New York. Still, my half hour walk to work was a beautiful one. With every wind that blew I would simply think back to the two huge events that took place yesterday and it didn’t seem so cold.

First, the Eagles beat the Giants in a stressful, back and forth, smashmouth game. Seriously, after such a long season that was seemingly in the trash a few weeks ago, to see them persevere and make it to the NFC Championship game is a gift. Never mind the serious flack I got from Bed, Bath & Beyond employees when they noticed my Eagles hat and jersey, it’s a good time to be a Philly sports fan.

Second…Springsteen took home the Golden Globe! That’s right! Bruce Springsteen won the best original song for a movie (The Wrestler), which I saw last week. It’s an excellent movie that shows that sometimes, sadly, the self in self worth can screw things up for everyone. A must see, but be prepared to reflect on the characters and maybe not be so happy for the rest of the night.

See, I wrote this whole piece without thinking about my walk. Sometimes that happens.

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I Spy NYC Blogs of the Week (1.9.09)

I’ve found so many great New York city blogs this week.  The first is like the Bible of New York mapping websites. charts all of Manhattan with snapshots of buildings and points of interest in a format resembling streets. As if you’re walking, it’s a history lesson with interesting facts that must have taken a painstaking amount of work to compile. The author, Jim Naureckas, is my hero. is a comprehensive site with great links to all things walking New York. Great detail and a fun site.

Have a great weekend!

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